T Nation

Need Help with a Split


I like to alternate between periods of lower volume and heavier weight for 6-8 weeks and 2-3 weeks of lower weight higher volume. I'm coming to the end of a heavy training cycle and am about to start a lower weight/ higher volume cycle. My lower volume split is Chest/Shoulder/Tri, Back/BI/forearm, and Legs over 4 days. This means each week I hit one muscle group twice each week and get and extra period of growth. When I switch to lower volume I just use a 5 day split each muscle group once every 7 days.

After reading Waterburys article here:

I have decided to try the ladder system. I just need some help coming up with a good split to use with it. Would I just do 1 exercise for each muscle 5 days a week? Combine muscle groups? I'm leaning towards a traditional 5 day split but would appreceate any feedback you guys might have on the matter.

Some stats about me, (don't know if this would affect your recomendations at all) 26 5ft 9in 207 lbs b/w 10-12% bf. Training since 01.





You’ve better put your question in the “Article discussion” forum or to ask Waterbury in the “Locker Room” forum.


[quote]fabiop wrote:
You’ve better put your question in the “Article discussion” forum or to ask Waterbury in the “Locker Room” forum.[/quote]

Actually, no he wouldn’t considering that Waterbury doesn’t answer either of them anymore (what a pity).

Anyways, I think that a 5 way split would work fine. I don’t think however, that you need the ladder system. It’s another one of those “tools” that should be used every once in a while, but not making an entire routine out of it. A traditional set/rep scheme would do you better.

If you plan on working each muscle group twice a week, I suggest only including ONE exercise per muscle group per session and get strong on both exercises. Two different exercises should provide sufficient variety. Simply get stronger at them and you’re good.

BTW, It seems that you’re kind of a beginner, so perhaps this should be moved over there instead. I only bring this up because you’re less likely to get “burned” over there by other people who are simply on here to bring others down.


Eight years of lifting and he should post on beginners? What the hell kind of place is this that a guy 5’9" and two bucks plus AND 10-12% AND lifted 8 years should post any question on beginners?


I haven’t used Waterbury routines but have tried ladders. My approach to it was that it seemed to me I could use them in any split system not having to change the split on account of that fact. What would change would be the number of sets performed, depending on how one counts the numbers.

My method of figuring it was to count for example 2,3,5,10 ladder as being half as many sets as it actually is. One ladder such ladder would count as 2 sets.

So in other words an overall training program where it would be appropriate to have so many sets of 10 of this exercise, it would be appropriate to have half as many such ladders.

This also worked for odd numbers. A half-ladder, counting as one set, would be either the 10 reps, or the 2,3,5.

So for example to substitute for 3 sets of 10, I’d do either 10,2,3,5,10 or 2,3,5,10,2,3,5. Which I did depended really on what I felt like. If I felt like the activation effect of the lower rep sets was helpful I’d do the ladder; if I felt I’d just fine jumping right into the 10, I’d do the first.

Anyway what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think that using ladders forces you to throw out what you already know and overall systems that have worked for you. They can be plugged in as changes instead of requiring a whole new system.


[quote]Arms Afire wrote:
Eight years of lifting and he should post on beginners? What the hell kind of place is this that a guy 5’9" and two bucks plus AND 10-12% AND lifted 8 years should post any question on beginners? [/quote]

Someone working out for 8 years shouldn’t have to ask how to set up a routine.

In all honesty, I was not attacking nor trying to attack the OP. I was very kind in my tone and thats what I always try to do.


wow… Bill Roberts posting on my thread, AWESOME! I don’t want to get too off topic, but while I haven’t taken the plunge just yet, I feel like your articles have given me a better knowledge of steroids and their effect on the body most guys on the sauce at my gym (quick story: a couple weeks ago a guy at the gym told me that he was on a cycle. I asked him what he was taking. He said “the injectable kind”. WTF?!?)

I really enjoy your articles because you seem to have found the line between academic research and real world data which gives even more credibility to your statements. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question.

Forbes I take no offense to your tone or being called a beginner. While I don’d consider myself a beginner, I suppose it is a subjective opinion that each of us develop on our own. I appreciate your feedback.

I was asking about a split with the ladder system because it is so novel to me, which is what makes me so excited to try it. I’ve tried all sorts of splits and rep schemes before, but nothing like this. As I stated in my earlier post I am scheduled to take 2-3 weeks off (depending on how my joints feel at the end of the second week) from the higher weight lower volume type training and instead substitute lower weights more volume. It was a happy convergence of events for me that I saw the article regarding ladders just as I was scheduled to start a lower weight and higher volume training system. At first the higher volume had me concerned about my work capacity, but after reading Mr. Roberts response about his experience with ladders I think I will do one main ladder set and maybe some straight set ancillary work depending how I feel after the ladder set.

I am going to go with a 5 day split at first and then evaluate how I respond after the training week is over.

Monday: Legs
Tuesday: Chest
Thursday: Back

I feel like this split will work well because it will allow me to squat and dead on the same week, and it keeps a lot of strain away from my shoulders with the increased volume.

Thanks for everyones help. I appreciate any feedback on the split, the system, or my grammar…

I will make sure to update this after I get some experience using ladders and let everyone know how I responded


Combat pyramids are far superior to ladders, OP.


Thank you for the kind words.

What I liked about the ladders was not actually physique or strength progress while doing them – not that I’m saying that that may not be perfectly possible – but I was able to readily increase volume to more than what I would usually have used while “off” and got a lot packed into a shorter time than I usually would have, one hour instead of two. While in and themselves those wouldn’t matter if no physique or strength progress resulted, it did seem to me that my following more-typical training, with normal rest between sets and sets other than warmups all being maximal effort, got better results than I would otherwise have expected.

I’ve long been very interested in the fact, or I consider it a fact, that results depend not just on what one is currently doing – which is what just about everyone focuses on to exclusion, apparently – but the combination with what has been done in previous weeks and months.

So when it seems to me that results in the following weeks when doing something else after a given unusual thing were better than I’d have expected, the fact that the unusual thing itself was no great shakes for immediate results doesn’t invalidate it to me. It remains interesting.

And generally speaking adapting oneself to high volume, if not already adapted, is a good thing. Ladders seem a good way to do that.